Tagsmart was here: Sculpture in the City 2017

Every year contemporary sculptures by internationally renowned artists are taken out of their natural habitat and placed in surprising corners of London’s financial district, Square Mile. With this year being the largest to date, with 16 artworks taking up residence amongst some of London’s most famous buildings, our team had a little wander around the city and picked our favourite pieces.

Nathaniel Rackowe’s Black Shed Expanded at Bury Court 


This piece, which recently featured at Parasol Unit Foundation for Contemporary Art, is a large-scale urban shed structure, seemingly mid-explosions upside-down, exposing its illuminated interior. It stands out amongst the London skyscrapers which surround it, the force of the light emanating from within, it seems to be ripping it apart. This work is in line with Rackowe’s usual practice, combining light and movement with urban infrastructure and industrial products. 

Gavin Turk’s Ajar at the St. Botolph-without-Bishopsgate Gardens 


This random open doorframe in the middle of a park has been left on display from last year’s Sculpture in the City and is rather intriguing. Why a door frame in an open space? Is it opening or closing? Do we walk through the door frame? Why is the handle so low down? Why has it been left open? Is it a portal through time? The door leads to never-ending questions and possibilities, and yet, it also leads to nothing. It is a playful homage to William Blake’s famous doors of perception as we are invited to walk through Turk’s door into the enchanting realms of the imagination and beyond. So, if you need a time out of the office head down to Bishopsgate!

Kevin Killen’s Tipping Point at The Leadenhall Building


Using the city streets to guide him, Killen has mapped out the urban landscape of Belfast with a series of light arrangements. The artist captures accidental, unexpected, spontaneous and playful fleeting moments of movement with his camera. He then deconstructs and visualises these images with the use of neon lights. The intricacy and experimentation of his work are highly impressive. When looking at this colourful installation, you would never guess that such thought has gone into its creation, would you? His translation of urban settings into kinetic light pulses is just beautiful!

Damien Hirst’s Temple in Cullum Street 


The anatomical model of a male torso, with the musculature and organs exposed, stands 21-feet high near one of London’s oldest markets, Leadenhall Market. This piece, made in 2008, is reminiscent of many other Hirst sculptures, such as The Virgin Mother, which was one of the largest bronze statues in the world at the time. The famed artist’s obsession with anatomy and death is clear throughout his work, whether with people or animals. Standing under this sculpture, you come to realise that we are human and beneath our skin, these organs reverberate keeping us alive. Quite scary!

Karen Tang’s Synapsid at Fenchurch Street Station


Reminiscent of a mutated, radioactive monster, this piece is rather playful and interactive. But what is it actually? An alien, some animal form, a monster? The neon greens and blobby segments evoke some kind of sci-fi evasion where extraterrestrials descend from space and rampage through London’s city centre. Tang’s works often reference science, sci-fi, architecture and city life.

A Shelter For A Memory

The London Festival of Architecture is Europe’s biggest annual architecture festival, and returns to the city this month with hundreds of events exploring ‘memory’. To celebrate the event, we dug into our own memory and recalled five impressive artworks that explore the ideas of shelter and remembrance.

Rachel Whiteread’s Ghost (1990)


Ghost, Rachel Whiteread’s breakthrough piece, is a plaster cast of a living room, modelled on a typical Victorian terraced house in north London, similar to the one in which the artist grew up. In its melancholic beauty, Ghost is a resonant monument both to the individuals who once occupied this room and to our collective memories of home.

Grayson Perry’s A House for Essex (2015)


Grayson Perry’s first building, a striking ‘secular chapel’ filled with his artwork, opened only for a limited period. Perry has described the building as the ‘Taj Mahal on the river Stour’ because it tells the (fictional) story of a local woman, Julie, whose husband had the house built as a shrine on her death.

Roy Lichtenstein’s House III (1997)


Among Pop icon, Roy Lichtenstein’s last subjects was the image of the suburban American home. The smaller-than-life sculpture House III evolved from Lichtenstein’s large-scale interior paintings of the early 1990s and from work that revived his interest in playing with perspective. Exploring inverted perspective and symbolically complex messages of housing and shelter, the corner of the piece appears to project forward toward the viewer. However, by walking around the work one sees that the corner actually recedes and that the eye has been fooled.

Tracey Emin’s Everybody I Ever Slept with 1963-1995 (1995)


Also known as The Tent, the artwork was a tent with the appliquéd names of, literally, everyone Tracey Emin had ever slept with, but not necessarily in the sexual sense. It achieved iconic status, was owned by Charles Saatchi and was destroyed in the 2004 Momart London warehouse fire. Emin has refused to re-create it.

José Bechara’s A Casa (2002)


Exploring the concept of shelter and the familiar notion of housing, José Bechara establishes physical, metaphysical and visual relations to the habitat, creating poetic connections with the interior and the exterior of this place. By reorganising the space with a rigorous method, the artist uses everyday objects as geometric forms and inverts the idea of the shelter by putting objects that relate to the human presence outside of the house.